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Digitising Vinyl, Audio Interface?

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#1
Hey guys,

I'd like to digitise some of my vinyl. I was going to simply purchase a phono to jack cable and run this onto my desktop pc... I then remembered last time I did this years ago in a different setup I purchased a dedicated internal sound card to achieve this, since on board sound sucks usually.

I'm looking for a USB sound card or audio interface to help here, but I'm getting really confused!

I looked at the Focusrite 2i2 or Audient i4 for example, but the things which confuse me:

1. If they accept line inputs, some seem to only accept one, and I'd need 2, one for ea h channel?
2. I saw a YouTube video of some dude using the 2i2 and it seemed very fiddly, he needed to set the gain nobs manually on each input, mess around when processing it tons just to get it in stereo! - I sense he may be doing something wrong, but it concerned me.

Anyhow I thought I had stumbled upon what I wanted last night, Soundblaster x-fi HD, (not an audio interface I know, but audiophile quality stateed, and vinyl ripping as a use case!) but I was a little suspicious, as Soundblaster for me has never been associated with professional gear... That led me to the review on here (very helpful) and convinced me this wasn't worth it.

My requirements are very simple, and lots of the audio interfaces have well beyond what I'd need.

My budget is less than £100, I've seen quite a few in this range, but unsure as to whether they'd work or not. Behringer is an interesting one, I'd usually associate it with budget stuff, and indeed, the thing that looks like an old Walkman seems naff, but the u-phoria range I'm not sure I should write off straight away.

I'm convinced I should be able to find something more like £50-60 too.

So yes, I'm just a it confused, and feel my requirements are pretty simple! Any help or suggestions much appreciated. Oh and for the record I intend to go from my amplifier line out, not directly from my turntable.

Thanks in advance
 

daftcombo

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#2
Hey guys,

I'd like to digitise some of my vinyl. I was going to simply purchase a phono to jack cable and run this onto my desktop pc... I then remembered last time I did this years ago in a different setup I purchased a dedicated internal sound card to achieve this, since on board sound sucks usually.

I'm looking for a USB sound card or audio interface to help here, but I'm getting really confused!

I looked at the Focusrite 2i2 or Audient i4 for example, but the things which confuse me:

1. If they accept line inputs, some seem to only accept one, and I'd need 2, one for ea h channel?
2. I saw a YouTube video of some dude using the 2i2 and it seemed very fiddly, he needed to set the gain nobs manually on each input, mess around when processing it tons just to get it in stereo! - I sense he may be doing something wrong, but it concerned me.

Anyhow I thought I had stumbled upon what I wanted last night, Soundblaster x-fi HD, (not an audio interface I know, but audiophile quality stateed, and vinyl ripping as a use case!) but I was a little suspicious, as Soundblaster for me has never been associated with professional gear... That led me to the review on here (very helpful) and convinced me this wasn't worth it.

My requirements are very simple, and lots of the audio interfaces have well beyond what I'd need.

My budget is less than £100, I've seen quite a few in this range, but unsure as to whether they'd work or not. Behringer is an interesting one, I'd usually associate it with budget stuff, and indeed, the thing that looks like an old Walkman seems naff, but the u-phoria range I'm not sure I should write off straight away.

I'm convinced I should be able to find something more like £50-60 too.

So yes, I'm just a it confused, and feel my requirements are pretty simple! Any help or suggestions much appreciated. Oh and for the record I intend to go from my amplifier line out, not directly from my turntable.

Thanks in advance
Hi,

I have a Scarlett 2i4, which is the same as the 2i2 but with more ouputs.

I use it to rip vinyl. Setting each channel gain separately is not a problem since anyway you will have to process your rips in order to cut the tracks A1, A2, A3, B1, B2... and normalize the gain so that from a record to another, you have the same level. A needle doesn't often give the same output level to both channel, therefore you will need to set each channel gain independantly anyway, let's say at -1.1 dBFS. I use IzotopeRX for this, but any free software like Audacity will do it.
Just set the knobs at around 12 o'clock and it will be fine.

If you want, I can send you an excerp of a rip I made with it so you have an idea of the result sound quality.
 
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#3
So with something like this, you'd just go line out onto the inputs on the front, set the gain as close as you can get using the dials..

Record with say audacity, or something similar, then do any post processing you need to?

If so I guess what spec do I need to look for? I know with Scarlett the Solo is not enough, but I think the 2i2 is.

I was thinking of this, spec wise I think it would suit, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Behringer-...face/dp/B00SAV0VP0?ref_=bl_dp_s_mw_3816966031 but unsure of quality differences between this and say 2i2.

The id4, which I was very keen on, I'm not sure if it's suitable or not? https://audient.com/products/audio-interfaces/id4/overview/ its 2 in, but can they both be line? I couldn't tell.

Thanks
 

daftcombo

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#4
Yes, I record with Audacity in 24bit/96 kHz in one go, then export the WAV 64bit in iZotope where I set each channel gain, cut the tracks and export as FLAC.

The 2i2 also has a DAC inside for line out and headphones out (impedance 10 ohm, which is ok) so you can monitor what you record.

Measurements here: https://johnr.hifizine.com/2012/09/focusrite-scarlett-2i2-measurements/

I heard good things about Audient products as well. For the id4, it seems you would need a 2xRCA to Jack stereo male.
 
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andreasmaaan

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#5
According to others who have measured some of these units here, the 2i2 well outperforms the UMC202HD (and actually also the X-Fi).

I don’t know about the i4, but its specs suggest it is nothing special.

What you’re interested in is the ADC performance of each unit on its line inputs.

The best I know of in your price range is the 2i2, but I haven’t researched this extensively.

In any case, all these devices will significantly outperform the vinyl itself, which will inevitably be the main source of noise and distortion.

On a practical note, you’ll want to make sure that the input levels are set such that the signal never gets near 0dBfs, ie doesn’t clip. Peaks at no higher than -12dBfs is probably a safe margin, and 24 bit would be preferable to give you plenty of headroom.
 

daftcombo

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#6
On a practical note, you’ll want to make sure that the input levels are set such that the signal never gets near 0dBfs, ie doesn’t clip. Peaks at no higher than -12dBfs is probably a safe margin, and 24 bit would be preferable to give you plenty of headroom.
In Audacity, you can check the levels easily and set the knobs so that it never goes beyond -6dB with your loudest record say.
 

JeanMiK

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#7
Hi,
I own a now old Tascam US 122L , perfect for this + audacity
You may find it for a very reasonable price on eBay.
Cheers
JM
 

solderdude

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#9
Behringer 202 and 204 are fine for recording music (own both) due to the somewhat higher 2nd harmonic distortion.
This is not a problem for recording music though as the harmonics are lower than the noise floor of vinyl anyway.
For measurements the 2i2 is better.
In both cases, 2i2 and Behringers, you need to set the input pots (not hard to do) so they stay below clipping level.
This is shown with indicators on the Behringers so easy to do.

You will need a phono pre-amp with RIAA compensation.
 
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#10
Thank you for the prompt replies everyone. I'm a little confused by some points though...
You will need a phono pre-amp with RIAA compensation
If I am going out from my amplifier, surely I don't need anything else?

Behringer 202 and 204 are fine for recording music (own both) due to the somewhat higher 2nd harmonic distortion.
This is not a problem for recording music though as the harmonics are lower than the noise floor of vinyl anyway.
Am I reading that your saying, yes, 2i2 is better than Behringer, specs wise, but that practically I'd not notice a difference because of the characteristics of vinyl?

If anyone is interested, it's a mix of new vinyl, and mostly old stuff from 90-95 (Hardcore, Drum n Bass, obscure white labels etc!)
 

daftcombo

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#11
Thank you for the prompt replies everyone. I'm a little confused by some points though...


If I am going out from my amplifier, surely I don't need anything else?



Am I reading that your saying, yes, 2i2 is better than Behringer, specs wise, but that practically I'd not notice a difference because of the characteristics of vinyl?

If anyone is interested, it's a mix of new vinyl, and mostly old stuff from 90-95 (Hardcore, Drum n Bass, obscure white labels etc!)
If your amplifier has a phono-amp (which is the case if you can listen to your records), then sure you can come from the pre-out and plug RCA cables in the 2i2.
 

solderdude

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#12
when your amplifier has a phono input then you are set and don't need a separate pre-amp as the amp already has one. (noticed I crossposted)
In this case you can use the record-out of a tape input to get the signal out.

The Behringers have 6.3mm TRS inputs so you would need an RCA to TRS cable or an RCA-RCA cable and a TS to RCA adapter to connect it.

Yes, the 2i2 measures better (lower THD) but the Beghringers have mostly 2nd harmonics at a very low measurable level.
That level is below the noise of vinyl recordings.
 
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daftcombo

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#14
Thank you. What does this mean?

That there is some thd, but so low that in this application, it'd not be an issue?
2nd harmonics, even a bit high, are usually masked by the fundamental hence inaudible, and some people even report that they add something nice to the sound.
I wouldn't recommand adding harmonics to the sound for archiving purpose though, even if one can't hear it.
 

maty

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#15
An advert

To create good vinyl rips, in addition to vinyls in good / excellent condition, you have to spend a lot of money. It requires a time of learning and being very well advised.

For mediocre, poor, humdrum... ripping, no problem.
 
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#16
Thanks. I get that. I think I'm putting my economist hat on now and thinking of the law of diminishing returns.. If I am right..

On board sound + dirty vinyl = piss poor.
Clean vinyl +10
Sound card like xfi-hd +10
Audio interface like behringer 202 +11
Audio interface like 2i2, 11.5

And then once you start adding in anything else you could change you will increase the quality, but by smaller margins, and at significant marginal cost....

These will be for my listening pleasure (mostly on the move!), not to play out on a big rig in a rave or anything
 

andreasmaaan

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#17
Thank you. What does this mean?



That there is some thd, but so low that in this application, it'd not be an issue?
Yes, low in level and more importantly low in order, meaning that it will be masked by the auditory system.

Like @daftcombo says, if you were archiving vinyl for professional purposes, it would be unacceptable, but for listening purposes it won't create any audible change.

In other words, to rip your vinyl so that your rips sound like they do when you listen to the vinyl directly, this level and type of distortion is nothing to worry about, and in any case much less significant than the distortion your vinyl setup will be producing in the first place.

Certainly no need to spend a lot of money here :)
 

solderdude

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#18
You would have to spend a LOT of money on a good deck, good cartridge, good pre-amp and time to learn how to set it up and process the recordings and clean vinyl properly to get the max. result this may probably be true.

For ripping old vinyl just to extract the music on already owned gear all one needs is a decent ADC and some knowlegde on how to rip and possibly de-crackle, de-noise, de-click etc.

Indeed the amount of 2nd harm. distortion is inconsequential in this case when ripping vinyl. It'll stay below the limits of vinyl.
Most likely the pre-amp and cartridge you own already have much higher distortion than the Behringers.

All you need to do is clean the vinyl and buy a cheap Behringer + 6.3mm to RCA adapters.

Ripped some vinyl for the mrs last weekend. Albums/songs of old that never were published on CD. Used the Behringer 204HD (96/24) and processed it to 44.1/16. Sounds 'better' than the direct vinyl (after de-click, de-noise, de-rumble etc.)
 
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maty

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#19
You would have t sepend a LOT of money on a good deck, good cartridge, good pre-amp and time to learn how to set it up and process the recordings and clean vinyl properly to get the max. result this may probably be true...
That is the question. Good analog hard is expensive.
 

andreasmaaan

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#20
The other reason the rips might sound better is that when ripping, there is no vibration from the loudspeakers feeding back into the turntable.
 
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